Poetry | April 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

he waited by the window
and waits.


Corvette Stingray, 1968

Summer Sundays he is all mine.
I get in first, curl into my compartment
in back of the front seats.

Dad eases behind the wheel,
smug in his blue blaze—we pass farmstands
with chubby pods stacked in wooden crates—

put the top down Daddy!
I slip peas into my mouth, toss the shells
to shuddering air. On the lower east side,

the bagel man sweats in his kitchen,
handrolls bagels to drop the Os
in a boiling vat, his worn stick flips the rounds

as ferriswheeled shelves rise and fall in the oven.
On the ride home, a bagged baker’s dozen
singes my thighs as I chew through those heavens—
sesame, poppyseed, pumpernickel.

Near home, a truck slams through a redlight,
pleats Stingray right up to our toes.

Seeds rattle in the empty bag
as dad weeps over his broken toy.

—Janlori Goldman

Backyard in the Snow

The pines at the meadow's edge,
Weighted and weary with the season’s snow,
Surrender at last to the cold.
The rhododendrons shunt their leaves
As they huddle and hoard whatever
They count for comfort.
Even the chickadees
Seem less brave,
Preferring the security of seed
To their audacious swoop and scatter.
Funnels of snow
Rise out of nowhere and
Race off without direction or purpose.
Windows rattle.
Chill slips effortlessly into every room.
My youngest daughter
Stands at the kitchen door,
Holding her mittens,
Shivering in her snow pants,
Looking into our backyard.
She frowns
Not sure of anything,
As a sliver of sunlight
Slices across the snowfield.
I push past her
And bound down the steps,
Towards what she seems
Determined to avoid.
I hear her whimper
And turn to offer her comfort,
Receiving instead
A wordless signal of worry:
Where are you going?
What will happen out there?
What will happen to me if I follow you?
And though I love my meadow
And fear nothing in its empty iciness,
I understand her reluctance
To meet this moment here, now.
Looking back at her looking at me,
I feel alone on this brittle shelf
With the wind stinging my face.
We each hesitate.
Do we see the world the same way
Despite our differing claims
On ground each of us has momentarily chosen?
This is what I know:
Our tenuous invocations
Seem offered to no-one in particular.
We straddle reluctance and wonder.
Though I cannot know what she thinks of it,
The uncertainty that urges us
To rush forward as fully
As it cautions us to stand fast,
Seems a brave and wondrous thing.

—Kemp Battle

A Workaholic

She sits in her cubicle while everyone else is living.
Are they? What is living?

It’s simplistically natural.
It’s a human in their natural habitat;
it’s eating dinner, it’s watching TV, it’s taking a shower.
It’s not always enjoyable,
but it's there.
She does it.
When the weekdays wave their goodbye,
Capitalism creates a map of her mind.

Eight at night on a Sunday,
he knocks on her door three times,
in his pinstriped suit,
and matching black fedora.
Why take a break?
Mr. Man taunts.

Do you like what you do?
I work hard, I’m resilient, I make ends meet.
Do you like what you do?
I’m selfless,
I said, do you like what you do?

—Maeve Cecilia

Dandelions spread—
a conspiracy, no doubt!
Other plots afoot.

—Gary Berg

He Tramples the Daisies

What a terrible house guest!
His heavy cloak drags keepsakes
off the mantel as he coasts by.
He leaves a trail of broken picture frames,
never offering to piece them back together.
And his hourglass
marks a ring upon my table.
I show him the door and request he leave.
“You’re not welcome. Please go
She is not ready. It’s cold there down below!”
I shove him out and slam the door.
But he creeps, waits by the oak
in the flowerbed
under her open window.
He tramples the daisies,
and marigolds bloom at his feet.
He climbs our tree,
one-by-one he snaps the limbs,
breaks them free.
He draws closer,
brushing aside the curtain
to watch my mother rest.
I yell from the door as he climbs in
to plant a kiss upon her lips

Before I make it to her side,
he shrinks her down, tiny-sized,
and slides her deep into his pocket.

—Kerri-ann Torgersen

The Dogs in the Trees

The dogs are in the trees again
and they’re barking
waving to their friends
refusing to come down
scratching shedding ordering Chinese
hounding me
to do this
and that.

—Tom Corrado

a study for simplicity
with as few words
as images allow
a line drawn straight
from here to there
with breath held
lest a squeak ignite
with sudden illumination

—George Bandy

I love Jesus

like a poker player
down to his last hand

—George Payne

The Game Plays

The game plays different for us all
As twists; turns make paths uncertain
How we answer the inner call
The game plays different for us all
Fogs, anxiety make decisions worsen
For society, cities and even a dear person
The game plays different for us all
As twists, turns make paths uncertain.

—Brian Liston

Frozen Day

we’re roped like mountaineers
I know equipment
you’re an expert at knots it’s
terrible to talk this way
so let’s not
or knot
it’s snowing again
here get me some wine
the fireplace
beats back against the night
the pale stars the moonlight
we’re safe
for the time being

February March

it’s the thaw that kills

—Richard Donnelly

February 7th, 2021

She’s been gone for two years now—
my daughter.
Listening to Keith Jarrett’s Kӧln Concert and it hits me—
what living with this
grief is like: I have to play a
broken piano
that also needs
a tune.
I could walk away
or stay
and use the keys I have left
to make something

—Leah Brickley


During the night
A down feather
It’s way up
Through the satin liner and
Two pillow cases.

A single feather
All the others behind.
Pressing through
To touch
Your face.

—Kate Minford


I fell asleep. I always do
You relieved me of that,
Thank heavens.
Dry and motionless
Raw and awake.
The baby is crying
Was there ever a time I felt rested?
I’m glad for your trip away this week,
Enjoy the scotch.

—Hillary French

Kintsugi Valentine

Old love becomes a newfound thing,
If it asks you not to pay for sin,
But rather that you find repair,
Reply with joinery of gold.
Affix bowl’s crack with jagged seam,
Admire the beauty of the break,
Love thus reclaimed is yours to make.

—Jennifer Howse


Do you remember when
Our brothers weren’t dead
And the snow was freshly fallen?

How we would dance and sing
And laugh joyfully
An igloo of a world to crawl in.

How shiny, how white, the fresh fallen snow
The way it felt to know life without woe
And freeze but a moment alone in the stillness.

My face mirrors the sky
As the water of melted flakes
Drizzle down my lips.

I say, I do. I remember when
Our brothers weren’t dead
And the snow had not yet fallen.

—Claire Nee


Democracy spoke
Her pristine and purest truth
Amongst the darkness.

—Sage Higgins


The house is empty
devoid of cheer.
You are there
and I am here.

Everyday I
cross the bridge
to hospital
on river's edge.

I visit you
for two hours
and change the water
in your flowers.

Visits have limits,
I can't delay.
My eyes well up
driving away.

—Roger Whitson

Prayer for Sadness

In these times
I yearn for the silver-gray of sadness
undiluted by rationalization, comparison to other sufferings, or strangling anger.

I want to cry
unrestrained by feelings of unworthiness or uncertainty,
and to grieve all that has been lost or never found: enough love, courage, joy, conviction.

I have more faith in this than in anything else:
the purity of grief and its power to upend
the depleted, matted stasis that chokes and stifles.

Let sadness run free as it cleanses and renews.

—Sue Books

Covid Relief

I got the shot.
The shot I got.
I feared a lot,
now worry not.
I got the shot!

—Rick Oestrike

The Sudden Landscape

In California, Cypress trees
mark a path to the sky, the blue
as clear as a robin's egg
or Stevens Creek.

From our cottage, a grey patch
of clouds explode into a storm,
the wind twists branches
into beehives.

Minutes later the yard
turns into a lithograph

flecked with gold,
a swarm of bees
drunk on the wind.

In seconds, those straight arrows,
the Cypress trees,
command our attention

to the silk of a cerulean sky

—Mare Leonard

Phillip X Levine

Phillip X Levine has been poetry editor for Chronogram magazine since June 2003. He is also the president of the Woodstock Poetry Society. "All the people I was going to be when I grew up - they're still here"
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